Forum on Golf Course Warrant Articles – Thursday

Above: Proponents of saving our heritage are hosting a forum on Town Meeting Articles supporting the Southborough Golf Club – aka St. Mark’s Golf Course. (image from Facebook)

Residents are invited to a forum on Thursday night to learn about Town Meeting Articles supporting the Golf Course. The event will be held at the Southborough Library at 7:00 pm on April 5th.

Presentations will be made by the Golf Course Committee and Open Space Preservation Commission. During the forum, potential Town Meeting voters can learn more about the following Articles.

The forum is hosted by “Save Our Heritage”. It’s one of the groups that lobbied to save the St. Mark’s Golf Course last year. They began by lobbying to defeat Articles proposed by selectmen to purchase the golf course and relocate the Public Safety Building there. Their focus was keeping the vista from being destroyed. Selectmen rebutted that if the Town didn’t buy it a developer would.

Eventually, SOH and selectmen reached a compromise, helping secure support for buying the land. As part of the deal, the Town is placing a Conservation Restriction on the land around the safety complex and allowing continued operation of the golf course.

Golf Course Warrant Articles forum flyer
(click to enlarge)

But the Articles approved by voters last year didn’t include funding for the Golf Course to overcome the impact of the new construction. That’s what Articles 15, 28, and 29 on Monday’s Town Meeting Warrant will address.

Article 30 is related to the Conservation Restriction on the land. According to Freddie Gillespie (the Chair on almost every committee involved and the SOH spokesperson)* managing the CR requires developing a Management Plan for the course. She found an Audubon program she believes will help the Town do that cost effectively, and may eventually increase the marketability of the course.

Here are more details on the Articles. 

Article 15: Southborough Golf Club – Capital Restorations

$300,000 – Summary: This article is necessary to fund golf course restoration and repair expenses, to ensure continuity of play during the construction of the Public Safety Facility.

Article 28: Appropriation from CPA Funds – Golf Course CR Endowment and Costs

$50,000 of CPA funds – Summary: Project proposed by the Board of Selectmen, this Article uses the best estimates available to provide funds to cover the endowment and other associated costs to finalize the Conservation Restriction on the Southborough Golf Club as required by March 8, 2017 Town Meeting Vote to purchase the land.

Article 29: Appropriation from CPA Funds – Golf Course Parking Lot and Restoration

$581,716 of CPA funds – Summary: This article will allow the Town to restore the golf course to a visually appealing, playable condition and preserve the recreational opportunity provided by the course. It also preserves existing historic open vistas, natural habitat and passive recreation opportunities. In addition, this article will allow the Town to construct a parking area and retaining wall. This project is needed because construction of the new Public Safety Building will effectively end golf course operations unless funds are allocated to restore the course to the appropriate playing state for future potential. Continued golf course operation is required under Warrant Article 1 of the March 8, 2017 Special Town Meeting, which passed with more than 90% of Town Meeting attendees voting in favor. An owner’s project manager under the supervision of the Golf Course Committee will be chosen to oversee the project.

Article 30: Appropriation from CPA Funds – Audubon Program for the Golf Course

$15,000 of CPA funds – Summary: The USGA sponsored Audubon International Classic Program is a prestigious designation that will assist in promotion of the course as a destination for golfers while providing beneficial guidance to the Golf Management Company and the Holders of the Conservation Restriction (CR) on Best Environmental Management Practices in renovations and running the Golf Course. The Classic Program will assist in development of the Management Plan required in the CR, reducing costs to the town in developing the Plan.

Click here for the Warrant with the full motion details.

*Freddie Gillespie is Chair of the Golf Course Conservation Restriction Committee, the Open Space Preservation Commission, and the Community Preservation Committee.

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Concerned Voter
5 years ago

It is still perplexing as to why the BOS would vote to override the votes and hard work of many Boards and Committees (5 or 6?) on the matter of duel holding of the conservation restriction, the CR. The only reason one can imagine is control. Future control of this precious and diminishing resource: open space.

It is an inherent conflict of interest for the town to have any part in holding the CR. Also, it is not how this is done in this state. The voters made their wishes known in past votes: save that land. For the BOS to usurp control (citing town counsel’s direction) over those boards and committees work (assisted by outside expert environmental counsel, paid by the taxpayers) seems a contradiction in terms:

Either you are saving that rare, legacy parcel and its views and its pristine state or you are NOT (e.g. by leaving some control to the town to un-do conservation restriction — and worse case scenario: sell it (??!!) expressly against the wish of the voters (maybe to a developer), develop it with municipal buildings, again expressly against the already-made decision of the voters to preserve it FOREVER.

The voters should remember who on the BOS (3 to 2 vote) who went against the express desire of the citizenry and opened this up to risks — instead of preserving the pristine state of this legacy site — and vote them straight out of office. If this parcel is sold, developed, or ruined (by becoming septic area for an expanded downtown — God forbid), who is held accountable?

And PS — sick and tired of the exceedingly rude treatment of Ms. Gillespie by some BOS members. This town is extremely fortunate to have someone, anyone, of that caliber of expertise on they myriad of complex environmental local laws and state laws. The fact that she plays a leading role in preservations efforts seems mocked in this reference (*) to her above. Sickening. The town is lucky to have the benefit of her efforts and the other many volunteers who engage in preservation work on behalf of the town.

Urge the public to learn more on these efforts, support and attend this forum.
Thank you.

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